Social Media for Dentists: Proven Strategies to Grow Your Practice

By GWENDOLYN PITKIN

Wish you had more social media followers, comments, and likes? Or maybe you already have a decent Facebook following, but how do you leverage that to get new patients?

Social media strategy isn’t always easy for businesses, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated either.

Whether you’re already on social media or still in the planning phase, getting people to follow and engage with you might feel impossible. But it isn’t.

We’ve seen businesses of every size succeed again and again. How did Tender Care Dental, an Oregon practice, get more than 2,000 Facebook followers? How does a dentist like Dr. Mark Burhenne get so many people to like, comment on, and even share his posts?

Funny, relatable posts like this one help:

Do you always seem to have conversations with your mouth full at the dentist?Click like or share if this happens to...

Posted by TenderCare Dental on Monday, June 29, 2015

It can be done. Great content is just one piece. This post will tell you what to expect from social media, which channels you should be on, and how to use them to get more patients in your office.

Social media can’t…

Replace your current marketing efforts. Social media should be part of your online marketing strategy, not the whole strategy.

Deliver results tomorrow. Building up a following and leveraging your social channels doesn’t happen in a day. You’ll need patience and consistency. If you have a solid strategy, you will see results in time.

Social media can…

facebook about business information

Help prospective patients find you, and decide if your practice is right for them. Many people use a dentist’s Facebook page to get a feeling for the practice. Is your office big or small? Are you into holistic health or a more traditional approach? Your Facebook page can say a lot.

Prospective patients may also want to see your address, contact information, and hours in the About section.

Help you maintain relationships with current patients. If you offer great content, your loyal patients are likely to follow you on social media. Just make sure your content is relevant and useful to your customers. (More on that later!)

Help you present yourself the way you want. Do you want to people to know you’re a friendly, progressive dentist who cares about the environment? Social media will help you communicate that.

Drive more prospective patients to your website. Social media can actually help your website be more visible to search engines like Google. We’ll talk more about how that works later.

Now let’s dive into the specifics. For starters, which social media channels should a dentist use?

Have a Game Plan

Know what your goals are and have a plan before you start posting.
A key question to ask yourself is: Who do I want to reach? Think about the patients you currently have as well as the ones you would like to have.

Know Where to Be

You don’t need to be everywhere. In fact, you probably shouldn’t be everywhere. As a dentist, you’re already busy enough; you don’t want to pour your energy into a social channel that won’t deliver great results.

Which channels you should use depends on your practice, but these are the three we’ve found effective for most dentists:

  1. Facebook

  2. LinkedIn

  3. Blogging

Why those three? And what does blogging have to do with social media for dentists? Let’s look at them one at a time.

Facebook

Going to the dentist is an experience. You want to show people (not just tell them) what it’s like to walk into your office. Facebook lets you post photos, videos, GIFs, and other visuals to help get the message across.

Facebook is more informal than many other social channels, so it’s great for posting community-oriented content, including health tips, patient photos, or funny dentist memes.

Demographic Makeup

Facebook is the most popular social media channel in the world. In the United States, 58% of the entire adult population is active on Facebook. If you’re a family dentist, know that a lot of parents use Facebook. Since parents are usually the primary decision maker when it comes to choosing a family dentist, it’s important to have a strong Facebook presence.

Depending on where you’re located and who you’d like as a patient, you might be wondering about more specific demographic information. Check out some Facebook stats on gender, ethnicity, income, and more.

What Should I Post on Facebook?

Here are a few pointers before you start posting to Facebook:

Dental Tips

Add value to your Facebook page by regularly offering tidbits of dental or health advice. If you’re giving valuable information, people will want to follow you so they won’t miss your weekly tip. Not sure what kind of advice to offer? Think about things you do for your oral health that might not occur to your patients. Do you have an amazing brushing or flossing technique? Are certain foods especially harmful to your teeth? How can we prevent stains from coffee?

Special Offers

Do you ever have new patient specials? Discounts for seniors or kids? Let everyone know on Facebook.

Not Too Much Promotional Content

Not every Facebook post should come from your blog or be selling something. For every 10 Facebook posts, only two or three should have a promotional angle. The rest should be community content (a.k.a. content not actively trying to sell your services).

Keep Your Content Interesting

Don’t let your content get stale and repetitive. Make sure everything you post is either helpful or entertaining. Be funny if it fits with your brand.

Be Visual

Visual content gets attention. Find beautiful photos on Flickr, take photos of you and the team in the office, or look on Pinterest for quotes about dental health, like this one:

If you don’t have many followers yet, try this: when current patients come in, mention your Facebook page, how to find it, and what value they’ll get from following you.

LinkedIn

Many of your customers are probably on LinkedIn, but that’s not why LinkedIn is so important for dentists. For example, you may want to connect with a popular local orthodontist. Then you can refer your patients to her, and she may, in turn, refer patients to you.

Demographic Makeup

Not surprisingly, LinkedIn has significantly fewer users than Facebook, but that doesn’t matter to us. We’re not interested in finding a lot of people on LinkedIn. We’re interested in finding the right people.  

In the U.S., just 23% of the adult population is on LinkedIn. However, 50% of college graduates are active on LinkedIn. That’s a great sign if you’re looking for strategic partners like orthodontists, dental equipment manufacturers, or other healthcare professionals who perform different services from you.

Here’s more detailed demographic information about LinkedIn.

What Should I Post on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is different from Facebook. It’s more professional and generally more formal. Reflect those differences in your tone and in the content you post.

Need some posting ideas?

Content About Dentistry

Remember, LinkedIn is your place to connect with people in industries similar to yours. This is the place to post higher-level articles about topics that might be confusing or uninteresting to your customer-centered Facebook audience.

Be a LinkedIn Author

Anyone can publish articles on LinkedIn. Not everyone does, though, and it’s a great way to build authority and credibility in your field.

Here’s an example. Let’s imagine you’re using LinkedIn to find a doctor who will refer his TMJ patients to you.

  • Write an article about TMJ and publish it on your LinkedIn page.

  • Next, identify several medical professionals in your area on LinkedIn who you’d be interested in working with. (After you’ve entered a search term, also specify your location in the left search bar.)
linkedin-search-bar
  • Make sure your LinkedIn privacy settings are set so people will see your name and headline when you visit their page.

  • Then go to all those orthodontists’ pages. They’ll get a notification saying you were there, and if they click on your page, they’ll see that you’re a TMJ specialist.

Someone even wrote a LinkedIn article about finding strategic business partners on LinkedIn.

Now you have a basis for reaching out to them — unless they contact you first!

Blogging

Google “Are blogs social media?” and you’ll get plenty of conflicting opinions. But that’s not the point. The point is, blogging can help you in many of the same ways social media can.

  • Creating a blog on your company website can help get traffic into your site.

  • It provides a place for people to comment on your content, and it’s a fun way current and prospective patients can learn about you.

  • Blog posts give you something to post on Facebook that links back to your website.

Demographic Makeup

Blogging is different from Facebook and LinkedIn. You choose who you want to write for (your target audience), then write about what will interest them.

What Should I Post on My Blog?

Think about what your patients ask you when they come in the office. Do they have burning questions other dentists aren’t writing high quality and informative articles about?

Consider prospective patients too. Want patients who just graduated from college and are looking for a new dentist? Recent grads are often price-conscious, so write a post about all the ways to avoid expensive dental procedures.

For more ideas check Quora and Yahoo Answers. Just type dentistry related terms in the search bar to see what people are asking.

You can even use Google for blog topic ideas! Start typing a question about dentistry in the Google search bar. Before you finish typing, check Google’s autocomplete suggestions to see common related questions. You can use those as the basis for a blog post too.

google autocomplete gif

Writing high quality blog posts takes time. Still, it’s important not to skimp on content. Aim for somewhere between 500 and 1500 words. Remember, longer, high-quality content holds up over time.  It also tends to rank better in search engines like Google.

If you’re short on ideas, we’ve got 20 to help you get started.

Promoting Your Blog

How do you make sure those college grads see your post in the first place?

One way is to post your blog posts as Facebook ads. How?

Post your blog post on Facebook, then just click the blue “Boost Post” button in the bottom right to get started:

facebook boost post example

When you run a Facebook ad, you can target specific ages, incomes, and interests to make sure the right people see it. You can even create a custom audience for each blog post. You get that option after you click “Boost Post.”

facebook ad targeting

More Than Just Social?

There’s more to social media for dentists than, well, being social. Social media channels aren’t just for connecting with patients (though they're great for that too). Social media can actually help your website rank higher when people search for dentists on Google.

Here’s how:

Say you post a link to a blog post on your website to your Facebook page. Every time someone likes, clicks on, or shares it, your website looks better to Google (that’s something known as Search Engine Optimization or SEO), and you get more visitors to your website.

organic SEO clicks cycle

Additionally, if your social media page gets enough interaction, the page itself may even start showing up in Google search engine results.

Like this:

facebook pages google search engine result

Want to learn more, plus get other search engine optimization tips you can use? Check out our free newsletter training course! We’ll share tips we ourselves use with dentist clients every day.

Sign up here to learn our secrets.

Getting Started

Now hopefully you have what you need to craft a social media strategy that works for your dental practice. But what about tools and resources to make social media easier to master? Or examples of good posts on social media for dentists?

Let’s look at a few of each.

Tools & Resources

  • When to Post: some general guidelines on the best days and times to post on different social sites. (Hint: Post to Facebook on Thursdays and Fridays. Post to LinkedIn on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays.)

  • Hootsuite: Save time by scheduling your social media posts in advance.

  • Flickr: one of the Internet’s biggest sources for free photos. Just make sure to select Commercial use allowed instead of Any license. If you’re going to make changes to the photo (like adding text), select Commercial use & mods allowed.
flickr search photos license
  • Unsplash: a great source for high-quality free photos you can use however you like.
  • Canva: a free easy-to-use photo editing website for making collages, overlaying text, and much more.

  • Keep track of what you’ve posted, what you will post, and when with a social media content calendar. Here’s one you can use.

Example Posts

Do you want to be funny, informative, or something else? Let these examples spark your creativity. These dentists are doing social media right:

Informative:

Now this is interesting... A new smartphone app may improve your oral health. "A lot of people think halitosis is just...

Posted by Blodgett Dental Care on Monday, June 15, 2015

Charitable / Behind the Scenes:

Great Promotion:

I’ll give you the details so you can decide for yourself.

Posted by Caitlin Batchelor Dentistry on Monday, June 15, 2015

Cute:

Hope you had a great #Siblings Day!#dentalhumor

Posted by Dental Art and Humor on Friday, April 10, 2015

Personal:

Taking the Next Step

We showed the importance of social media and SEO in getting prospective patients onto your website. Both are integral parts of an effective digital marketing strategy, but there are other important pieces of the puzzle.

Is your website easy to navigate? Does it expertly guide prospective patients to your contact page? Are you running targeted, well-written ads on Google? Should you be?

Learn more about how a well-rounded digital marketing strategy can help your dental practice.


GWENDOLYN PITKIN - CONTENT MARKETING SPECIALIST

Gwendolyn Pitkin is an avid writer and lover of storytelling. She specializes in content creation, and loves writing everything from blog posts to tweets. Before coming to DelMain Analytics, she studied marketing and Spanish at the University of Portland, where her interest in digital marketing began. When she’s not working, Gwendolyn loves traveling and watching Real Madrid games on TV with a mug of English tea.

Follow Gwendolyn on Google+Twitter, and LinkedIn.